Updated: Feb 6, 2022
“She’s a friend of my mind. She gathers me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them right back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”– Toni Morrison, from Beloved
In 1993, Toni Morrison became the first African American writer to win a Nobel Prize. Through her writing, she gave voice to the complexity of the Black experience in this country and changed the lives of countless writers, artists, readers, and dreamers. To commemorate her life, Books in the Barrio, in collaboration with the St. Philip’s College Communications and Learning Department, joined other Historically Black Colleges and cultural organizations around the country and began organizing a yearly literary event designed to highlight Morrison’s contributions to the African American literary cannon. On February 18th, 2020, we commemorated Morrison’s birthday with an event titled Pieces of Me, Readings of Toni Morrison, where students, faculty, and staff read excerpts of Toni Morrison’s work. It was the first time such an event was ever held at St. Philip’s College, San Antonio’s only Historically Black College.
In 2021, we held Voices: Celebrating the Legacies of Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde, an event designed to highlight Morrison’s and Lorde’s contributions to the development of Black Feminist thought. We invited contemporary poets Kasaundra Hamilton, Jessica Mitchell, and San Antonio’s first African American Poet Laureate, Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, to share their poetry and thoughts on the legacies Morrison and Lorde left behind. We closed the evening with a round-table discussion on the lasting relevance of Morrison’s and Lorde’s and the insight it can provide as we attempt to understand, resist, and organize against systemic violence and oppression.